2013 CSC Annual Workshop: Contemporary Chinese discourses and social change in China

2013 Annual Workshop group photo

Associate Professor Linda Tsung and Dr Wei Wang organized a successful China Studies Centre’s annual international workshop Contemporary Chinese Discourse and Social Change in China on the 8th and 9th of August 2013. Professor Kerry Brown, Executive Director of the China Studies Centre welcomed participants, formally opened the workshop and gave a speech on Chinese political discourse in Contemporary China.

This international workshop brought together for the first time in Australia leading world experts and internationally renowned scholars in contemporary Chinese discourse studies, intercultural studies and sociolinguistics, including Professor Chaofen Sun, from Stanford University, a Changjiang (leading) scholar in the Chinese linguistics, Professor Naran Bilik from Fudan University, a Changjiang scholar in Chinese anthropology. The workshop afforded the opportunity for these scholars from famous universities such as Stanford, UCLA, University of London, Beijing University, Fudan University, Hong Kong University and Singapore Science and Technology University etc., to gather at the University of Sydney and forge a new, innovative collaborative research agenda for the decades to come.

With a view to producing new interpretative approaches in researching the complexity of discourse, 20 paper presentations were organised into three sessions: Discourse in Action, Discourse in Use and Discourse and Identity. All participants in this workshop examined how discourse changes in a context-dependent way; how social changes in China lead to such shifts in the use of discourse; how social and cultural identities have been constructed through language use; and the ways in which agents or agencies have manipulated meanings. Participants acknowledged that the economic, social and political changes taking place in China are bound up with changing discourse, reflecting new practices, identities, ideologies, values and attitudes. A variety of approaches and methods have been adopted by participants: conversational analysis, genre analysis, rhetorical analysis, narrative theory, critical discourse analysis, natural historical discourse perspective, linguistic landscape and cultural political economy developed within the fields of politics and international relations. The data analysed included TV blockbusters, government work reports, teaching quality assessment reports, speeches of the party leaders, and video recorded face-to-face interaction between government officials and the general public.

This workshop has cemented a new collaborative research network between Australia, China, Singapore, the US and the UK in the area of contemporary Chinese discourse studies and cross disciplines research. The workshop will result in new publications as a Special Issue for the Journal of Chinese Language and Discourse (CLD) and a book on Contemporary Chinese Discourse and Social Change in China for the CLD companion book series Studies in Chinese Language and Discourse edited by Associate Professor Linda Tsung and Dr Wei Wang which will be published by the John Benjamins Publishing Company, one of the leading publishers in the field of linguistics.